I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

by Harlan Ellison


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A Grand Master of Science Fiction and the multiple-award-winning author of A Boy and His Dog presents seven stunning stories of speculative fiction.

Hugo Award winner I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is living legend Harlan Ellison’s masterpiece of future warfare. In a post-apocalyptic world, four men and one woman are all that remain of the human race, brought to near extinction by an artificial intelligence. Programmed to wage war on behalf of its creators, the AI became self-aware and turned against all humanity. The five survivors are prisoners, kept alive and subjected to brutal torture by the hateful and sadistic machine in an endless cycle of violence.
Presented here with six more groundbreaking and inventive tales that probe the depths of mortal experience, this collection proves why Ellison has earned the many accolades he’s received and remains one of the most original voices in American literature.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream also includes “Big Sam Was My Friend,” “Eyes of Dust,” “World of the Myth,” “Lonelyache,” Hugo Award finalist “Delusion for a Dragon Slayer,” and Hugo and Nebula Award finalist “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497643079
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
Publication date: 06/03/2014
Pages: 162
Sales rank: 29,969
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Harlan Ellison (1934–2018), in a career spanning more than fifty years, wrote or edited one hundred fourteen books; more than seventeen hundred stories, essays, articles, and newspaper columns; two dozen teleplays; and a dozen motion pictures. He won the Hugo Award eight and a half times (shared once); the Nebula Award three times; the Bram Stoker Award, presented by the Horror Writers Association, five times (including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996); the Edgar Allan Poe Award of the Mystery Writers of America twice; the Georges Melies Fantasy Film Award twice; and two Audie Awards (for the best in audio recordings); and he was awarded the Silver Pen for Journalism by PEN, the international writers’ union. He was presented with the first Living Legend Award by the International Horror Critics at the 1995 World Horror Convention. Ellison is the only author in Hollywood ever to win the Writers Guild of America award for Outstanding Teleplay (solo work) four times, most recently for “Paladin of the Lost Hour,” his Twilight Zone episode that was Danny Kaye’s final role, in 1987. In 2006, Ellison was awarded the prestigious title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Dreams with Sharp Teeth , the documentary chronicling his life and works, was released on DVD in May 2009. He passed away in 2018 at the age of eighty-four.

Date of Birth:

May 27, 1934

Date of Death:

June 28, 2018

Place of Birth:

Cleveland, OH

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, CA

Read an Excerpt



My report on Harlan Ellison's Paingod in National Review evoked the following, from a right-wing gentleman in Pennsylvania:

Harlan Ellison, contrary to the otherwise astute Theodore Sturgeon, is no more a major "prose stylist" than the editorial writer of the Plumber's Journal or The New York Times. Instead, he stands unchallenged as the god-awfullest writer ever to become submerged in the vaseline of synonyms and antonyms.

What Mr. Sturgeon mistakes for "image-making" is merely the slick conundrum of an empty-headed self-lover who, unhappily, believes that the bathroom ritual of personal daily resurrection, when inflated rhetorically, is 14" pegged prose. What emerges is not a "style" but rather a sort of neologistic bawling from the belly. It reminds one of the yips and yaps to be heard in the war councils of imbecilic demonstrators, from Berkley [sic] to Boston.

Ellison's "mad, mixed metaphors" are only less puerile than those of a certain Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, and his "unfinished sentences" no different in construction than those to be found in the diary of a lady golfer or political speech writer suffering from Liberal emphysema.

If our penitentiaries offered courses in creative writing we would soon be inundated with little Harlan Ellison's [the apostrophe also sic], all of them, to be sure, "groovy" and all of them ghastly. His unconcealed hostility toward his betters is evident in nearly everything he has ever written. That he is reviewed in a magazine noted for correct English (and often bad French) will probably embarrass the fellow. It does me.

To which Ireplied:

I find no hesitation in deeping Mr.--'s embarrassment by demonstrating that he could not possibly have read my review of Paingod and Other Delusions with care, which leads inescapably to the deduction that he has not carefully read Ellison. For the tenor, sum and substance of my report was not that Harlan Ellison is a major prose stylist, but that in three to five years he shall be. Further, I did not in the review concede that Ellison is capable of atrociously bad writing--I proclaimed it. I said in effect that this extraordinarily energetic young writer is a man on the move, so watch him. Style, like taste, is resistant to lucid definition; however, both, as living things should be, are subject to constant change. For example, I can clearly recall the time when it was regarded as both stylish and tasteful to capitalize proprietary terms like Vaseline and God (at any degree of awfulness) and hardly tasteful to admit to any expertise on the style of ladies' diaries.

You hold in your hands a truly extraordinary book. Taken individually, each of these stories will afford you that easy-to-take, hard-to-find, very hard-to-accomplish quality of entertainment. Here are strange and lovely bits of bitterness like "Eyes of Dust" and the unforgettable "Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes," phantasmagoric fables like "I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream" and "Delusion for a Dragon Slayer."

I have something interesting to tell you about that last-mentioned story. Almost anyone who has been under the influence of a (and Purists please note: I tried) hallucinogen can recognize the "psychedelic" quality of this story and its images, even to a fine detail like the almost total absence of sound during the shipwreck sequence, and of course the kaleidoscopic changes of persona and symbol. Yet I know for a fact that Harlan has never had this experience, and is one of those who could not be persuaded under any circumstances to undergo it. I got a special insight on this one night at a party when his hostess graciously offered him the opportunity to "turn on." "No, thanks," he said. "Not until I come down."

Which would remain a good-humored whimsy but for something a biochemist told me a couple of years ago. It seems that there is a blood fraction which is chemically almost identical with the hallucinogen psilocybin. It's manufactured in the body and like most biochemicals, differs in concentration in the bloodstream from person to person, and in the same person from time to time. And, said my biochemist friend, it is quite possible that there are some people who are born, and live out their lives, with a consciousness more aware, more comprehending, more--well, expanded--than those of the rest of us. He cited especially William Blake, whose extraordinary drawings and writings, over quite a long life, seemed consistently to be reporting on a world rather more comprehensive than one we "know" he lived in.

Table of Contents


Echoes Of Screams, 1983,
Introduction: The Mover, The Shaker,
Foreword: How Science Fiction Saved Me From a Life of Crime,
I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream,
Big Sam Was My Friend,
Eyes Of Dust,
World of the Myth,
Delusion For A Dragon Slayer,
Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes,

What People are Saying About This

Leslie Charteris

Ellison writes with sensitivity as well as guts---a rare combination.
—Leslie Charteris, (creator of The Saint)

Pete Hamill

Harlan Ellison is the dark prince of American letters, cutting through our corrupted midnight fog with a switchblade prose. He simply must be read.

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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
SnarkyKaya More than 1 year ago
Angry, horrible, nightmarish, brooding, and shocking, this short story will pull you out of any lilt you may be feeling and will utterly bury your comfort zone. You will feel as though you have reached the epicenter of hell by the time you finish this story, and that you understand what it means to pray, cry for, and hope bitterly for a death that will never come. Harlan Ellison is a sadistic genius whose vision reminds me of "The Cube" - only his is much, much, much worse and somehow more unfeeling. Buy this now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the best from one of the true masters. The title story is a classic and one of my all time favorites, but it is far from the only noteworthy inclusion. Ellison is so good at capturing moods and emotions that you really feel as though you come to live the stories instead of just reading them. I cannot recommend this enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book (or rather short story) was recommended to me by a friend. It is morbid and grusome, just as it should be, and will haunt you forever. If you have a light stomach take heed if my warning, don't read this!
kanajloRR More than 1 year ago
Ellison's writings combine horror and a deep humanism. I suspect that his own struggles with depression have given his great mind grist for his literary mill. I predict he will still be read in translation when English itself is a dead language. Caveat lector (Let the reader beware): Don't read more than one of his works at a time. You will surely have nightmares.
Savagemalloy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I rarely read fiction, let alone scifi, but it's an interesting diversion recommended by an online athiest.
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read this a dozen times over the years. Wow! He has a unique insight into humanity, the future & an extremely imaginative way of putting them together. This is a classic!
CliffBurns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The other tales in the collection pale in comparison when held up alongside the title story. This is one for the ages--Ellison has forged an original, literate offering that stands with the finest short fiction of the 20th century.
stickerooniDM More than 1 year ago
I first read this book in 1976 and became an immediate fan of Harlan Ellison's work. Shortly after reading the book I attended my first convention, met Mr. Ellison, and had him sign that book. Since that time I think I've read every collection the irascible writer has published. But I recently decided to go back and see read this 'first' collection again to see how it stood the test of time. It stands up well! The title story, about a crazed computer torturing the last five humans on earth is just as powerful now as it was forty years ago. "Eyes of Dust" is one of those stories that has stayed with me a very long time and yet it's rarely discussed or reprinted (and Ellison reprints EVERYthing). "World of the Myth" is one I'd forgotten about, but enjoyed it - probably more now than I did originally as I've come to enjoy dark fantasy/horror more since then. And "Lonely Ache" is a title I remember, but I had forgotten the story. "Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes" is a story you don't forget one you've read it and is the sort of story that really defines Ellison - both as a writer and as an individual (or at least the individual he presents publicly). It really sets a tone that draws the reader in. One thing that I would never have realized as a fifteen year old reading these stories the first time, is how misogynistic the stories (and Ellison) tend to be. Were I to read these for the first time today, I'd still be impressed with the power of prose Ellison wields, but I'd be less inclined to continue to read him because of his views or at least the literary treatment of women he presents. It's hard to separate the man from the writing - especially when that man has tended to be so public and verbose and combative - but if you can, and want to read some tremendous, edgy fiction, then you should check this out. This volume contains the following: Echoes of Screams, 1983 Introduction: The Mover, The Shaker Foreword: How Science Fiction Saved Me From a Life of Crime "I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream" "Big Sam Was My Friend" "Eyes of Dust" "World of the Myth" "Lonelyache" "Delusions For A Dragon Slayer" "Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes" Looking for a good book? You should read Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream not only because it's a classic, but it contains some tremendous writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Weird little book...strangely easy to read. Warning...material would be rated R if it were a movie, well or at least NC-17, lol.
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Sora_Kuraiika More than 1 year ago
The stories in this book were totally amazing, my favorite being Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes. Truth be told, I was drawn to the titular story because I had read one that was based on it, without knowing that the others exsisted. It was an awesome book that I would definately recommend, but just not if you like to sleep at night.
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